I’m sure everyone out there is as concerned about the outbreak; or giving its correct terminology pandemic of Corona Virus as I am and that we are all particularly concerned for our old and vulnerable relatives and friends. So, I thought today it would be useful to provide my customers with details of my current working arrangements and the relevant advice that is out there for us all to keep safe and well. Although this is with the proviso that the advice might and if last week’s events are anything to go by, probably will be subject to change at short notice.
The current advice from Government and the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps is to continue to work wherever possible but to practice all the relevant safety precautions. The Government have a stated intention that wherever possible they want to keep the economy moving, for obvious reasons.
I have been following to the letter a number of Safety precautions during the past week as outlined by Government and NHS England. So, what are the relevant safety precautions when chimney sweeping? Surprisingly, with a few notable exceptions many of them are the same as those adopted as normal everyday working practice. They include:
- Not attending any customers address where anybody in the household has symptoms of Corona Virus or are self-isolating for the advised 14-day period.
- To practice self-distancing at all times; at least 2-3 meters away from other people at all times.
- The wearing of full protective sweeping clothing whilst working and which is washed daily.
- The wearing of a protective face-mask – I use an American brand that complies with the British Standard and that has an M3 filter.
- The wearing of two layers of gloves – I use a thick heavy-duty latex glove inside a thick industrial glove. I change the gloves for each individual job.
- The use of sufficient dust sheets and runners for the job in hand. Again, the dust sheets are used for one job only and are washed daily. I use a white cotton ground sheet and a black waterproof top sheet (Rodtech UK) for each individual job.
- At the present I am requesting that wherever possible customers pay me by bank transfer, avoiding the need to handle cash or cheques.
- At the end of the work I ask the customer to sign the sweeping certificate using their own pen and to then take their copy (the top yellow copy) – Again avoiding the need to handle the same pen and paperwork.
- Following each job, I wash my hands using industrial strength, alcohol-based wipes and disposable paper towel.
It is therefore important to remember that at the time of writing, the government is not advising people not to work. It says you should only go to work if there is no other way you can do your job. It is also saying that if you are working away from your home, it’s your responsibility to practice the social distancing instructions and to follow all the other health advice. Personally I would add to this, that with regards to chimney sweeping it is ultimately the customers decision as to whether they want the work done at the current time or whether they wish to defer it to a later date when the present emergency has passed. Clearly, if the situation is an emergency (for example a blocked flue) or the customer resides in a Thatch property, they might not have the option to defer to a later date.
This all said, if the customer and their household are symptom free and content for me to come and do the work, then I will do so, but I will be following all the safety precautions I have listed above and conducting a telephone risk assessment immediately prior to my attending.
If anybody is in any doubt then please do get in touch with me, and likewise I will be calling all my customers and speaking to the personally before I attend any appointments.
For further advice and guidance please visit the following sites:
Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
ACAS (Very Informative Site): https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus